With all the “world” titles out there it's hard to believe that we've only ever had two Japanese fighters who have been 3-weight world champions. The first of those was the controversial Koki Kameda (33-1, 18) whilst the second was Kazuto Ioka (17-1, 10), who achieved the feat earlier this week.
Whilst the recognition of being “3 weight world champions” is something they share, it's certainly not the only thing they have in common. Both have been backed by Japanese TV giant TBS, both made their names at a very young age, both were born in Osaka and both have been fast tracked to the top, winning their first titles very quickly.
Here we'll be taking a look at how the two men match up in their achievements so far, and what the future is likely to deliver for both men.
Kameda, born in 1986, began his career in 2003 as a promising and exciting young fighter. In less than 3 years Kameda claim his first world title, the previously vacant WBA Light Flyweight title, as he narrowly out pointed Juan Jose Landaeta in a controversial split decision. That was Kameda's 12th professional bout and whilst the win was highly controversial he did set the record straight with a clearer win in a rematch just 4 months later. Sadly however that was Kameda's only defense at the weight.
Ioka, born in 1989, made his debut soon after turning 20 and began his career at Light Flyweight. Like Kameda however he dropped down a weight for his first world title bout which came less than 2 years after his debut. Unlike Kameda there was no doubting Ioka's first title win as he stopped long reigning champion Oleydong Sithsamerchai in the 5th round of their bout to claim the WBC Minimumweight title. That was just Ioka's 7th professional bout and saw him setting a then Japanese record, which has since been broken by Naoya Inoue and looks likely to be beaten again in May by Kosei Tanaka.
Whilst Kameda vacated his title and moved up after just one defense Ioka decided he'd hang around a bit and recorded a trio of title defenses. The most notable of those saw him unifying the WBC and WBA titles with a razor thin win over fellow Japanese fighter Akira Yaegashi. The win over Yaegashi really was a fight that saw Ioka mounting a claim to being the #1 in the division but he did move up immediately afterwards.
Kameda's second title reign began in 2009 when he claimed the WBC and Linear Flyweight title with an excellent win over Daisuke Naito. The bout was filled with lot bad feeling between the two men due issues between Naito and the Kameda family following Naito's bout with Koki's younger brother Daiki and that bad feeling helped draw massive interest in the bout. Sadly however it wasn't the most exciting of bouts with Kameda being too good and too quick for the then 35 year old Naito, who would only fight once more before retiring. This really was Kameda's stand out win, and came in fight #22, sadly however it quickly followed by his first loss as Pongsaklek Wonjongkam out pointed him in what Kameda's first defense of the title.
In total Kameda's first two reigns consisted of just a single successful defense. A disappointing return but one that had seen him mix with good company and hold a linear title.
Ioka's second reign began at the end of 2012 when he claimed the previously vacant WBA Light Flyweight title, the same title that Kameda had held in 2006, with a 6th round TKO against Jose Alfredo Rodriguez. As the champion here Ioka defended the belt with defenses against Thai veterans Waisanu Kokietgym and Kwanthai Sithmorseng as well the previously unbeaten Felix Alvarado.
Whilst his was frustrating, despite the excellent win over Alvarado, it's fair to say that Ioka's reign here was of a “secondary” title. The real WBA champion was super champion Roman Gonzalez and although talks of the two fighting did exist the bout never came off with Ioka's team taking the blame. Interestingly however Gonzalez never defended his title whilst Ioka held the “regular” title and instead the Nicaraguan great flirted with the Flyweight division that he later moved to.
Kameda's third reign was at Bantamweight and began less than 9 months after his loss to Wonjongkam. It saw Kameda skipping the Super Flyweight division and going straight to Bantamweight where he claimed the previously vacant WBA title with a decision win over former Super Flyweight champion Alexander Munoz. Kameda's reign here lasted significantly longer than either of his previous two and saw him making 8 defenses. The reign began in Kameda's 25th bout making him one of the quickest fighters to become a 3-weight world champion, doing it in 2 less fights than American Adrien Broner and 9 less fights than Flord Mayweather Jr.
On paper Kameda's reign sounds great however there was a lot to dislike about it. Several defenses were close with split decisions over Hugo Ruiz, Panomroonglek Kaiyanghadaogym and the unheralded Jung Oh Son, there was also less than inspiring defenses, not only against Son but also Nouldy Manakane, Mario Macias and John Mark Apolinario. Not only were the defenses generally lacking but this was secondary title, with Anselmo Moreno holding the “Super title”. Sadly Kameda vacated the title soon before he was supposed to go to purse bids with Moreno and instead said he was dropping to Super Flyweight.
For Ioka his third has just begun and it started when he won the WBA Flyweight title with a close and very competitive win over Juan Carlos Reveco. The win came in Ioka's 18th professional bout, making him the quickest fighter in history to become a 3-weight world champion. This was however his shot at a Flyweight title after having previously come up short against Amnat Ruenroeng in an IBF title fight.
This is a secondary title, with Juan Francisco Estrada holding the “super” title but it's still a notable win over a very good title holder and a win that puts him in the mix for really big fights down the line.
The future for both men looks to be really interesting.
For Kameda the next step is clear. He'll be fighting against Kohei Kono in a battle for the WBA Super Flyweight title at some point in the next few months. That will give give Kameda a chance to become the first 4 weight world champion from Japan. Not only is the future bright for his legacy but also financially following a link up with powerful American promoter Al Haymon.
Sadly for Kameda he is now an “out cast” from the Japanese boxing scene and is, along with his brothers, banned from fighting at home and even if he wins the WBA Super Flyweight title he'll be seen as a “lesser” champion, well behind WBO champion Naoya Inoue.
As for Ioka the future is less clear though arguably more exciting. He is still TBS's boxing poster child, he has the money behind him to bring top opponents to Japan though where he goes next could well be very interesting. There is a possibility of a rematch with Reveco, Ruenroeng or Alvarado there is also possible show downs with Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez or defenses against people like Brian Viloria, Koki Eto, Giovani Segura and Suguru Muranaka.
Ioka may only have a “secondary” title but given the division he is in there is so much to be excited about and so many brilliant match ups for him there the future looks wonderfully exciting. Sadly however we really can't see him moving to Super Flyweight any time soon so a potential super fighter with Inoue is highly unlikely, so to is a fight with Kameda or Kono. Given his age we'll never say never, but becoming a 4 weight world champion doesn't likely for Ioka.
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